Fifty years ago, Title IX became federal law. The goal was to protect against sex discrimination in schools. But today, there are questions about how it should apply to a constituency that was not part of the conversation in 1972: transgender athletes. LA Times sportswriter David Wharton joined host Lisa McRee on “LA Times Today” with more on how Title IX has factored into the debate.

Since Title IX was implemented, girls’ participation in sports has increased tenfold. Now, as more openly transgender athletes join the field, their participation has come under fire. Wharton explained both sides of the debate. 

“On the one side, there are the people who want to regulate transgender participation,” Wharton explained. “And we’re talking about transgender females. Because athletes who transition from female to male, they don’t win as often.... But transgender females, people see them as being too strong, as having developed as young men and then transitioning. And they feel like it’s an unfair advantage and competition against cis gender women. Then the other side, you have the transgender community who feel like people are not only attacking their right to participate, but they’re attacking their very essence ... And that’s obviously very upsetting to the transgender community.”

Science on the topic is still relatively new and does not provide conclusive answers on whether transgender females have an advantage in sport. For now, Wharton said, regulators measure testosterone to determine if a transgender athlete can compete.

“They’ve settled on testosterone, which is responsible for strength that mass men have more of it generally than women do,” he said. “So, they take these measurements. They try to figure out what’s the range for females and males. And if you’re a transgender female, most of the organizations that govern sport say you have to go on hormone therapy and bring your testosterone level down to the female range and have it there for as much as a year before you’re allowed to compete.”

Meanwhile, as the scientific debate goes on, sporting seen events large and small have erupted in protests over the issue. Wharton said that the issue is far from resolved, but cases involving Title IX could work their way up the court systems.

Click the arrow above to watch the full interview. 

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